Ornette: Made in America, a documentary film about jazz giant Ornette Coleman, made by Shirley Clarke, has been restored and will open August 31 at New York City’s IFC Center. The premiere is the second release in Milestone’s “Project Shirley.”
According to a press release, Coleman and Shirley met in Fort Worth in the early 1980s. Producer Kathelin Hoffman “was preparing to open Caravan of Dreams, an innovative new cultural center, and invited native son Coleman to write a jazz piece to perform with his band Prime Time for the opening,” the release states.
Hoffman then learned that Clarke had started a film about Coleman in the 1960s. The three then embarked on the three-year project that resulted in Ornette: Made in America.
The documentary, the press release continues, “uses the score of Coleman’s symphony ‘Skies of America’ as an underlying script and, like his avant-garde jazz, exploits non-linear means of storytelling to bring everything together.” It includes “archival shots from 16mm and video; dream and flashback sequences; animation; the theories of Buckminster Fuller; North African influences on 1960s luminaries (including William Burroughs, Tennessee Williams, Paul Bowles and Allen Ginsberg); a music video; and Coleman’s musings on the intellectual and experiential basis for Southern jazz and blues.”
The film opened in 1986. Clarke passed away in 1997.